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Coffee v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

April 26, 2017

KENDRICK COFFEE, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TRAVIS R. MCDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the United States' motion to deny and dismiss Petitioner's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 52.) Petitioner submitted the relevant § 2255 petition on June 9, 2016. (Doc. 45.)[1] In it, he challenges his enhancement under Section 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the residual provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), was unconstitutionally vague. (Id. (suggesting that his sentence is no longer valid because the residual clause in Section 4B1.2 is equally vague).)[2]

         On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court issued Beckles v. United States, which held that the United States Sentencing Guidelines are “not amenable to vagueness challenges.” 137 S.Ct. 886, 894 (2017). Shortly thereafter-on March 24, 2017, the United States filed the instant motion to dismiss Petitioner's Johnson-based challenge in light of Beckles. (Doc. 52.) Petitioner has not filed a response, and the time for doing so has now passed. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1, 7.2. This Court interprets the absence of a response as a waiver of opposition. See, e.g., Notredan, LLC v. Old Republic Exch. Facilitator Co., 531 F. App'x 567, 569 (6th Cir. 2013) (explaining that failure to respond or oppose a motion to dismiss operates as both a waiver of opposition to, and an independent basis for granting, the unopposed motion); see also E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.2 (“Failure to respond to a motion may be deemed a waiver of any opposition to the relief sought”).

         On March 31, 2017, FDSET filed two motions: one asking to withdraw as appointed counsel under the Standing Order in light of Beckles (Doc. 54 (explaining that she cannot further pursue a motion to vacate under Johnson according to the limited appointment authorization provided by the Standing Order)); and another requesting that the Court grant Petitioner leave and a 30-day extension of time to file pro se arguments in support of the existing-petition (Doc. 53).

         I. RESOLUTION OF NON-DISPOSITIVE MOTIONS

         Because Beckles forecloses any possibility of Johnson-based relief, the request to withdraw (Doc. 54) will be GRANTED and counsel will be relieved of her duties under the Standing Order. The request for an extension of time (Doc. 53) will be DENIED because Petitioner has had more than enough time to submit pro se arguments in support of his existing grounds or supplement the same with additional theories of collateral relief. The petition has been pending before this Court for more than nine months. Further, almost two months has passed since the Supreme Court decided Beckles. The Court finds any extension would be inappropriate under the circumstances.

         II. DISPOSITIVE MOTION AND § 2255 PETITION

         To the extent that Petitioner argues that Johnson invalidated the Guideline residual clause and that, without that clause, Petitioner's prior convictions for aggravated burglary and escape cannot be categorized as crimes of violence, that argument fails because the United States Sentencing Guidelines are “not amenable to vagueness challenges.” Beckles, 137 S.Ct. at 894. Because Johnson does not affect Petitioner's status as a career offender, it cannot justify relief.

         III. CONCLUSION

         For the foregoing reasons and because this Court interprets Petitioner's failure to respond to the United States' request for dismissal as a waiver of opposition, the motion to deny and dismiss (Doc. 52) will be GRANTED and Petitioner's § 2255 petition (Doc. 45) will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. FDSET's motion to withdraw (Doc. 54) will be GRANTED and request for an extension of time (Doc. 53) will be DENIED. This Court will CERTIFY any appeal from this action would not be taken in good faith and would be totally frivolous. Therefore, this Court will DENY Petitioner leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 24. Petitioner having failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, a certificate of appealability SHALL NOT ISSUE. 28 U.S.C. § 2253; Fed. R. App. P. 22(b).

         ORDER ACCORDINGLY.

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